Thai Red Curry Tempeh Soup

Thai Red Curry Tempeh Soup

My hope of an extremely hot summer morphing into a pleasant warm and sunny fall certainly hasn't come about, and that has me dashing round the kitchen to generate some heat. As nothing can quite match the soothing feeling of mouthfuls of steaming hot soup gradually warming your body from head to toe, the thought of a bowl with some extra spicy flair combined with the comforting goodness of autumn vegetables soon became a reality.

This Thai red curry soup is elegant and surprisingly light despite the addition of earthy vegetables and crispy pieces of meaty tempeh. I especially like the creamy coconut broth made with homemade Thai red curry paste that serves as a base for lightly cooked vegetables. The coconut milk tempers the spices in a subtle way that allows the sensuous heat of the curry to shine. You may wish to reduce the amount of tempeh used in your soup, and that's okay, because the marinated and fried tempeh is delicious for snacking on, so go ahead and fry up the whole package anyway. You can munch on the tempeh as an appetizer in anticipation of the next course. You may of course omit the tempeh altogether for a lighter version of this dish though I personally enjoyed the chewy texture it imparts to the whole culinary experience.

Thai Red Curry Tempeh Soup

This soup made a perfectly satisfying and balanced dinner, especially when served alongside a bed of piping hot white rice. An added bonus is that this soup makes good use of any leftover quick-cooking vegetables that may be pining away in your fridge.

While preparing this soup, special attention must be paid to the intensity of the red curry paste that you are using. Taste a wee bit of the paste to get a sense of what it is going to contribute to the dish. Remember, you can always add more near the end of the cooking time, but if you add too much right to begin with, your palate might burst into flames.

Thai Red Curry Tempeh SoupThai Red Curry Tempeh Soup
Recipe by
Adapted from The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes Carnivores Will Devour
Cuisine: Thai
Published on September 24, 2012

Vegetables and tempeh simmered in a warming, colorful and wonderfully fragrant and delicious coconut broth seasoned with homemade Thai red curry paste

Preparation: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 30 to 40 minutes

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  • 8 to 12 oz (225 to 350 g) tempeh, cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • juice from 1 lime (2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil for frying
  • sea salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated or minced
  • 2 to 3 fresh red chilies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste,to taste
  • 19 oz (550 mL) coconut milk
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • zest and juice from 1 lime
  • 3 to 4 cups mixed vegetables (I used a combination of cauliflower florets, corn, chopped green beans, diced carrots and dried and fresh mixed mushrooms)
  • fresh basil leaves for garnish (optional)
  • Begin by preparing the tempeh. In a flat shallow baking pan, whisk together the tamari or soy sauce, 2 teaspoons of sesame oil, and lime juice. Place the tempeh pieces into the pan and toss to coat with the marinade. Spread the pieces out evenly. Let this sit for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring and flipping the tempeh pieces occasionally.

  • In a large skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of sesame oil over medium heat. When hot, remove the tempeh from the pan with a slotted spoon or spatula and transfer to the skillet. Fry, flipping every few minutes, until the tempeh is nicely browned and crispy on both sides. Add more oil if necessary. Transfer the tempeh to a bowl, pat off any excess oil with paper towels and gently toss with a few sprinkles of sea salt. Set aside.

  • Make the curry by heating the sesame oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. When hot, add the shallots, ginger and fresh chilies. Stir and cook for 5 minutes or until the shallot soften and just begin to brown. Toss in the spices and red curry paste and stir the mixture constantly for a minute or two.

  • Now whisk in about half of the coconut milk and bring to a simmer for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the brown sugar, tamari or soy sauce, lime zest, and the rest of the coconut milk, and whisk until blended.

  • Stir the vegetables into the pan and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cover the pan and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just tender and the broth is somewhat thickened. Add water as desired for a thinner consistency. Part way through the cooking time, add the prepared tempeh to the pan, reserving a few pieces for garnish. Stir in the lime juice, cover, and let simmer for a few minutes longer.

  • Ladle into bowls and garnish with the remaining pieces of tempeh and fresh basil leaves if desired.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

More captivating tempeh recipes from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen that will be sure to please:
Oseng Oseng Tempe
Thai Tempeh Patties with a Red Chili Dipping Sauce
Baked Tempeh & Japonica Rice Casserole
Tempeh Breakfast Hash-Up


Laavanya said...

I love thai red curry and what a great idea to incorporate it into a soup... perfect for this weather :)

Lisa Turner said...

Thanks for stopping by. I loved this soup - my homemade red curry paste really made this dish shine.

Chitra said...

Lovely curry. I wish to try :)

Yogi Kitchen said...

we always seem to do green-curry. Honestly, this recipe inspires me though - I'm pretty much going to follow it by the letter, with the omission for us, as usual, of onions and garlic. Nice photos too. I think you were quite creative this time on that front!

Lisa Turner said...

Thank you for you comments. I do struggle with photos I admit and glad you like these ones. Let me know how you enjoy the curry. It was one of my best Thai dishes yet. I really cut down on the amount of onions and garlic I use in my dishes these days.